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The Essence of Chaplin: The Style, the…

The Essence of Chaplin: The Style, the Rhythm and the Grace of a Master

by John Fawell

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This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
An interesting and very thorough treatise on the genius that was Charlie Chaplin. The author's love for the subject (and frustration with the approach most of his fellow film historians take) shows through on every page. I adore Charlie Chaplin's films and this book made me want to see the rest of them! ( )
  runeshower | Jul 10, 2015 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I knew very little of Charlie Chaplin prior to this book. I certainly feel after reading this book that I have a clear view of the genius of Chaplin and his fascination and attention to minute detail. The book was well laid out and did not feel as repetitive as I feared it might. There were several mentions of Chaplin’s illustrious reputation in regards to women and young women at that. The author shied away from contributing to the sensationalized bio bits which I am sure those that truly are focused on Chaplin’s artistic merit could care less about. All in all, I would recommend the book to any that would like to understand the film history of Chaplin. For those that already are intimately familiar with his art I am not sure how much new information is provided. It seems like a well-researched topic. ( )
  ponder | Mar 28, 2015 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
An admirable but not entirely successful attempt to sum up "Chaplinesque" aesthetics. Fawell is trying to fill what he sees as a gap in the field of Chaplin studies, which (according to him) tend to focus too much on Chaplin's biography, don't truly capture the essence and intricacy of his comedy, and/or fail to give his cinematographic style the credit it truly deserves. Unfortunately, this book takes a "more-is-more" approach, often piling on example after example rather than taking one and exploring it fully, such as using a series of pictures to illustrate a gag shot by shot. (Expensive in terms of photo permissions, I know, but I would've found it more memorable and less overwhelming.) There's also some rather tedious repetition, especially when Fawell is talking about themes, which sometimes leads him to mention certain famous bits over and over, and a tendency to tell rather than show. But I did come out of it knowing more about Chaplin's style than I did going in and am inspired to watch more of his films. ( )
  bostonian71 | Mar 8, 2015 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Fawell wishes to distinguish his book as a look at film making and not a biography relating to the actual films. But he does incorporate tidbits of Chaplin’s experiences during the filming of each. What stands out is a portrayal of a visionary who started with nothing but a dream of escaping poverty until he discovered his brilliant comic roots to the maturing of a master film maker. This is a great book for those who not only love Charlie, but also love his specific films. It is also an excellent introduction to young artists to the mindset of seat-of-your-pants, artistic and inventive accomplishments of getting your movies made and seen. Film students should focus on his innovative and accessible techniques. I received this book free, in order to write the review. ( )
  catscritch | Mar 6, 2015 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
In his latest book, Professor John Fawell instructs the modern movie audience not to view Charlie Chaplin’s silent films as old, rickety curiosities.

He hopes the reader will see, as he does, a compelling humanist motif that runs through the filmmaker’s comedies such as; “The Kid,” “The Gold Rush” and “City Lights” to name a few.

By having the focus of the book only on the philosophic merits of a handful of early titles, Chaplin’s desire to preserve mankind’s dignity to celluloid as it relates to him seeking companionship, empathy and love, is highlighted obsessively in each chapter.

For Fawell, Chaplin’s balletic balance of pathos and comedy can be seen with black-and-white clarity, and perhaps the patient reader will see it too. However, translating all of Chaplin’s clever comedic miscues as various indignities that humans suffer from can be a tedious read, proving that, yes, comedy is hard, but writing about comedy is harder.
  jazznoir | Jan 31, 2015 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0786476346, Paperback)

Charlie Chaplin's remarkable life and comedic talent have been the focus of countless popular and scholarly studies. In this groundbreaking work, Chaplin's often underrated skills as a film director take center stage. Highlighting the screen icon's significance as a filmmaker, this study focuses on the heart of Chaplin's cinema--his silent works starring his alter-ego, Charlie--and examines both his great silent film features like The Kid, The Gold Rush and Modern Times, and his shorter, earlier films like The Immigrant, The Pawn Shop, The Pilgrim and A Dog's Life. An analysis of the formal properties of Chaplin's filmmaking reveals the merit of his cinema, the depth of its emotion and the extent of its meaning. Chaplin is among the great artists of any medium, in any time, with an ability to touch on very subtle aspects of the human condition.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:08:03 -0400)

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